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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Young Fiction

Changeling by Steve Feasey
Publisher: Macmillan (Jan 2009) pages: 2711

A Jen Ames Review

As a growing teenager I can remember being fascinated by the world of vampires and daemons, witches and fairies, sorcery and the bizarre, as a fairly grown ex-teenager I have not lost my appetite for them. Changeling, with its host of underworld nasties, promised to give me something to sink my teeth into, be they vampiric, lycanthropic or human.

Trey Laporte, like most adolescent horror-fiction heroes, is your average everyday fourteen year old orphan that nobody likes and whom nobody understands. One morning when he awakens in the children’s home he is distraught to find his room completely destroyed and his possessions scattered and shredded. Naturally he is blamed for the carnage and denounced as a troubled and out of control hooligan. He is about to be frogmarched to the psychiatric unit when he is rescued by a pale faced stranger posing as his uncle. Whisking Trey away in a blaze of mystery and intrigue the stranger reveals himself to be not only a vampire, but the best friend and confident of his late father, he also reveals Trey to be a werewolf, and the last of his kind. In grave danger from both formidable foes and himself,

Trey moves in with the vampire and becomes part of the family, as he struggles to cope with his new powers, and the truth about his parents death. A real coming of age battle ensues as he struggles with the beast within, and the beasts around him. Will he find his place in this strange new world? Will he avenge the death of his parents? Will he even survive?

The story incorporates pretty much everything you expect to find in a teenage fantasy fiction; adventure, rebellion, magical powers, the first stirrings of sexual and romantic feelings, a need to belong, a need to stand out, and accidental nudity. Ok so the last one is a little unconventional but you get the idea, many of the ingredients are there. I have to say this makes the plot a little bit predictable in places, but then again if it ain't broke don’t fix it. The story remains fresh and exciting through Feasey’s use of imaginative description and vivid scene setting, not to mention an extraordinary talent for seeing the world through a fourteen year olds eyes. There are some beautiful descriptive passages that just leap off the page, "He sank back onto his pillow with a groan and stared up at the ceiling, which shifted and swirled slightly under his scrutiny" being one of them from the very first page.

I found "Changeling" extremely easy to read, each passage seemed to flow steadily into the next and the fast paced action required no effort to follow. The only criticism I had was that sometimes the language seemed a little complex for the target audience. However, for the best part the language was simple, so maybe the odd smattering of more complicated words would encourage the reader to look them up and to relish their being there. On the other end of the scale though, a couple of times Feasey explains his metaphors as if he doesn’t expect the reader to understand the imagery, which I think is unnecessary, if the audience can cope with the style of writing and the language I think they can understand a few simple metaphors.

Overall an enjoyable read and one I can imagine having picked up when I was fourteen, I hope there will be more books to follow, as Treys’ character is worthy of a Darren Shan-esque development over a series of books.

© Jen Ames March 2009
Jen is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth

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